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The Unique Trip I Took At 25 That Still Influences My Travels Today – TravelAwaits

Summary

One of my first trips to Arizona took me to Canyon de Chelly, one of the most impressive works of art of the Colorado River. Part of the Navajo Nation, my visit to this park gave me my first introduction to their culture. 

I was 25, on my first trip to the American Southwest, less than a year after I landed in New York. Everything about America was still new to me, let alone just the Southwest. My romanticized ideas about the Indigenous cultures of America came from James Fenimore Coo…….

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One of my first trips to Arizona took me to Canyon de Chelly, one of the most impressive works of art of the Colorado River. Part of the Navajo Nation, my visit to this park gave me my first introduction to their culture. 

I was 25, on my first trip to the American Southwest, less than a year after I landed in New York. Everything about America was still new to me, let alone just the Southwest. My romanticized ideas about the Indigenous cultures of America came from James Fenimore Cooper’s novels like The Last of the Mohicans and its sequels, and from German writer Karl May’s works, whose protagonists were Apaches.

Visiting The Tribal Land Of The Navajo Nation

Years after my first encounter with fictional Native American characters, here I was, visiting real-life tribal lands — meeting real members of a tribe. Needless to say, none of it was anything I imagined.

In fact, being in the land of the Diné reminded me more of my old home, different from the rest of the U.S. Growing up, I was used to seeing sheep and goats in the open, or near the roads; something I haven’t seen in the rest of the U.S., but here it was a common sight.

People here were more reserved, didn’t ask too many questions, and didn’t try to establish eye contact. Growing up in a culture that valued these treats, I felt comfortable.

After setting up our tent in the park’s campsite, we went off to explore. 

White House Ruins (Photo Credit: Emese Fromm)

Learning About The Diné Culture 

In the visitor center, we learned about the Diné, who migrated from Canada’s west coast. We even entered a hogan, the traditional Diné home. Though it was empty — if you visit now, you’ll see the same hogan furnished — we learned the proper way to enter it and its significance, not only as a home but also as a family’s ceremonial center. 

Hiking down into the canyon to the White House Ruins, the only self-guided trail available, we met locals, women and children, going up and down the steep trail without breaking a sweat. Even in good hiking shoes, we couldn’t keep up. Sheep and goats grazed the canyon bottom on their own, with no one watching them. 

Ranger Talk And The Friendship Dance 

At night we joined two young local Diné for a ranger talk at the campground. With a ceremonial fire adding the only light around us, we watched several traditional dances and listened to a few songs that sounded as if they were imitating the sound of the wind. 

The rangers talked about their people’s stories, customs, ways of life, myths, and legends. I learned to call them Diné instead of the well-known term …….

Source: https://www.travelawaits.com/2707560/unique-trip-that-influences-my-travel-today/